As the Olympics began in London, another international competition brought over 150 High School students to the Embassy Suites Hotel at San Francisco International Airport to talk about the socially responsible businesses they have already built.
"Instead of competing on speed, strength or endurance, we provide teens with a chance to compete based on the creativity and impact of their socially-responsible businesses," said Curt DeBerg, Executive Director of Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE), the organizer of the event.
The winning team, a group from Abuja, Nigeria, presented their business of exporting Nigerian cocoa butter products in a way that reduces costs by cutting out the middlemen but provides better wages to women in the villages who collect the raw product.
“Entrepreneurship is all about grooming and training,” said Promise Odili, the CEO, who plans on leaving the business to be run by future students at his high school upon his graduation.
Local teams were also present at the competition.
A group from Saratoga High School created a company called iReTron, that repairs and re-sells electronics equipment, received second place.
According to CEO Jason Li, a high school sophomore, this service provides a ‘win-win’ for buyers, sellers and for society.
Those who sell old electronics equipment such as iPods and Cell Phones, are compensated and guaranteed security for their stored data, while those who buy the repaired electronics receive a far better deal than they would at the store. In addition, iReTron saves communities in Africa and China from becoming electronic waste disposal sites for American electronics equipment.
“This issue is personal to me,” said Li, who added he still has family members in China who he fears would be impacted by electronic waste.
“iReTron is the safest, astest, most efficient and greenest way to get rid of electronics,” said Li.
The competition was judged by many local executives and entrepreneurs, who were filled with praise for the competitors’ success at an early age.
“The presentations were definitely better than some of the start-up presentations I’ve seen from adults,” said Mark Velligan, Director of Portfolio Management at Genentech and one of the judges.
For more information about SAGE, visit www.sageglobal.org.